Saint Swithin’s Day

July 15 is the feast day of Saint Swithin. I must confess I knew little of him before today, but I loved the name. In Miracle Mile by Margery Allingham, the rector of the parish is known fondly as Saint Swithin, so I was curious to read about the real saint.

Swithin (or Swithun) lived during the Anglo-Saxton time in England. We don’t know when he was born, and only that he died July 2 sometime between 862 and 866. He was bishop of Windsor when alive, and the patron saint of the same after his death. He was a friend of King Æthelwulf, and tutor of the king’s son. He apparently led a fairly quiet life when he was alive. His passion was opening new churches, and restoring those that had fallen into disrepair. I like the fact that, although a friend of the king, he didn’t put on airs. Swithin made his diocesan journeys on foot; when he gave a banquet, he invited the poor and not the rich. He requested that when he died, he be buried outside the church where passersby would walk over him and the rain fall on him.

In 971, Bishop Ethelwold moved Swithin’s remains to a new shrine, commissioned by King Edgar, in Winchester Cathedral, which became a place of pilgrimage as miracles were worked at the tomb. Today we remember him for the weather rhyme associated with his name. Apparently, when his bones were moved inside against his wishes, there was a great storm, which is why it is said that whatever the weather is on his day, it will be the same for the next forty days, whether rain or shine.

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mare

Quotes about the weather

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.–John Ruskin

One need only think of the weather, in which case the prediction even for a few days ahead is impossible.–Albert Einstein

A cloudy day or a little sunshine have as great an influence on many constitutions as the most recent blessings or misfortunes.–Joseph Addison

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.–Mark Twain

Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.–George Carlin

It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.–Amelia Barr

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.–Kin Hubbard

For the man sound of body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.–George Gissing

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.–Patrick Young

Suddenly all the sky is hid As with the shutting of a lid, One by one great drops are falling Doubtful and slow, Down the pane they are crookedly crawling, And the wind breathes low; Slowly the circles widen on the river, Widen and mingle, one and all; Here and there the slenderer flowers shiver, Struck by an icy rain-drop’s fall.–James Russell Lowell

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.–Oscar Wilde

We consider it tedious to talk of the weather, and yet there is nothing more important.–Berthold Auerbach

You can’t get mad at weather because weather’s not about you. Apply that lesson to most other aspects of life.–Douglas Coupland

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